City boss Peter Grant refused to get dragged into a war of words with his Saints counterpart George Burley after Saturday's 2-1 win at Carrow Road – instead he let that result do all the talking.
Ex-Town chief Burley was pointing fingers in all directions afterwards – most pointedly at referee Clive Oliver who he claimed had “been looking to give Norwich something from the start”.
That he did, eventually, with the award of an indirect free-kick in the 62nd minute after Southampton keeper Kelvin Davis picked up a back-pass and gave Jamie Cureton the chance to sweep the ball into the roof of the net for his third goal in a week.
The fourth arrived less than ten minutes later – a wonderful instinctive finish from a Lee Croft cross that left Southampton pinned firmly to the bottom of the Championship table and a still mis-firing and Huckerby-less City with four points from the first available six.
The suggestion to Grant that Burley viewed that fateful back pass as unintended brought a wry smile from the Norwich chief.
“Obviously George hasn't seen it – I thought it was a fantastic pass,” said Grant, with supporting evidence to hand. “The boy's angled his body, sent it back for the keeper to hit it first time and the goalkeeper has dived on it – it's a free-kick.”
Nor was he about to get on Mr Probert's case. “I thought he'd done OK. I thought Chris Brown got smashed three times with an elbow from Wayne Thomas – as plain as your nose on your face,” added Grant, his choice of words clearly having the luckless Brown in mind.
“And the fourth official said he's seen it, but he's never said anything to the referee. So if that's favouring us…
“But then he's nothing to favour us with because at the end of the day we couldn't get into the game in the first-half because we kept giving possession of the ball away.
“I can't believe George has said that – because that's clutching at straws,” said Grant, with Burley also muttering about the linesman who missed the 'goal' that wasn't when David Marshall spilled Andrew Surman's speculative effort. It wasn't anyway, was the suggestion from the TV replays.
“These decisions go for you and against you, but he can have no qualms about the pass back, that's for sure.
“I just looked at the result – and it said 2-1. And that's the bottom line,” said Grant, who this weekend allowed unused keeper Paul Gallacher to go out on loan to Scottish First Division side Dunfermline.
Back in Norfolk and City's laboured first-half prompted a swift change at the break as a seemingly under-powered Julien Brellier made way for Mark Fotheringham. Tempo upped and the game pushed further up towards the Saints goal and the whole contest was about to be turned on its head.
“We put Fotheringham on in the second-half and that maybe changed the game. Not the referee; Mark Fotheringham changed the game.”
Both Brellier and his central midfield partner Darel Russell were, said Grant, “still trying to find their legs” after missing out on too many pre-season games.
“You could see that in the first-half and that's why I put Fotheringham on and we took much more care in possession and I thought that we started to dominate then.”
Cue Mr Cureton and two, instinctive finishes from the very top drawer.
“You put the ball in the box and you know what he's capable of doing – he's done it all his career,” said Grant, with his ?800,000 summer signing fast proving his worth.
“That's what the best strikers do – they finish chances and half chances. They sniff things that other people don't.
“The one thing that we are looking to cut out of his game is his willingness to chase full-backs. I don't want him to do that – I want him to use his energy for when he's in that final third; when he's in the box where he's going to hurt the opposition.
“And he's done it very, very well today. But, as I say, to get the best out of him we have to do what we did in the second-half, not the first-half.”
Get the ball to the likes of a Lee Croft wide and early – and let Cureton do the rest.
“We feel that if we can get everything else sorted out round-about him and create chances for him, he will score goals,” said the City boss.
“He proved that last season in The Championship. And he looks as fit as he's every done.”
Grant was swift to praise those who lent Cureton a helping hand. His two strike partners for starters; his two centre-halves; above all, however, the supporters.
“Brown worked very, very hard with him – taking all the bumps and bruises and then Strihavka comes on and does well in the period that he was on.
“So I'm pleased for them and it's great that you can leave Dion Dublin on the bench and still win.
“And great credit to Shackell and Doherty. I was a bit critical of the defence in mid-week, but I thought they defended very well against two tough characters in Jones and Rasiak. They showed guts and determination.”
And the supporters, infamously the subject of managerial rebuke within his first month in charge?
“Great credit to the support,” said Grant. “I've been critical before, but I thought when we weren't playing well at all, I thought they got right behind them and you can see the players getting a lift from that fact.
“They helped us through a really, really difficult period today. As I say, I'm not one for doing that – praising people lightly – but I thought today they definitely helped us in a tough, tough period.
“It just shows you that that can move mountains at times. And in the second-half I thought that was a big part in getting us the three points.”